An advocacy group has accused two Missouri public schools of allowing their employees to promote evangelical Christianity to their students.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog organization that aims to uphold the separation between church and state, wrote on its website that teachers at South Valley Middle School and Liberty High School in Liberty, Missouri., are encouraging religion in a school environment.
According to the FFRF, several teachers were seen wearing shirts advertising the evangelical Christian group Young Life and its middle school chapter Wyldlife, as well as posting fliers urging students to attend meetings for the group.
Young Life is a nationwide Christian organization whose mission is “introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith,” according to the group’s website. FFRF asserted that government employees, including teachers, need to keep their personal beliefs separate from the educational environment.
"When Liberty High or South Valley Middle School employees advertise for Young Life or Wyldlife during the school day, they are using government time and resources to promote their personal beliefs," FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to Liberty Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Tucker, according to the FFRF website. "Such actions, especially in the context of the public school system, violate the Constitution. By allowing teachers to promote local evangelical organizations during the school day, the Liberty Public School system is endorsing these groups in violation of the First Amendment."
The FFRF asked Liberty Public Schools to investigate the situation to make sure employees are not taking advantage of their captive audience of students to promote religion excessively. The school system has not yet issued a public statement in response to this allegation.